BADGER HATE WEEK: UW-Madison Basketball: A Timeline

1492-1994: Known as the Dark Times, no records exist to document the sports history of UW-Madison during this era. In fact, no records exist regarding any sports played by any college teams.

1995: Days after watching a 15-hour exhibition of Greco-Roman wrestling, a wise man of leisure named Dick Bennett invents the game of "Basket Ball." His vision: throw up a ring on both ends of an expanse of hardwood and have ten gladiators slog, slug, and slam into each other for two hours -- and occasionally attempt to toss a ball through one of the rings. The game is soon embraced around the nation, but, in an inspired move, UW-Madison takes Bennett into its employ, instantly making itself the leading Basket Ball program in the country.

1995: The entire state of Wisconsin piles onto the Sam Okey bandwagon. (Fittingly, the bandwagon has blond highlights.) Okey is a late arrival for his freshman year at Madison because the sculptor commissioned to fashion Okey's bust for the College Basketball Hall of Fame -- located, of course, in Dick Bennett's garage -- gets lost on his way to Cassville, Wisconsin.

1996: Dick Bennett invents the bounce pass, a move later perfected by his Padawan learner, Mike Kelly.

1997: The Sam Okey bandwagon -- now housed in the backseat of a Toyota Tercel -- departs for Iowa City. Sadly, the bandwagon makes it as far as a McDonald's in Dixon, Illinois, but is never heard from again.

1999: Mike Vershaw gets married.

Approximately two weeks later, 1999: The world gets sick of hearing about Mike Vershaw's wife.

2000: Dick Bennett permits the other Basket Ball-playing universities to join UW-Madison in a 64-team tournament. Unsurprisingly, Madison easily lulls its first four opponents into submission. Bennett dubs the four teams remaining in the Madison Invitational the "Final Four," and, instead of playing two additional games, brokers a truce where the "Final Four" schools agree that everybody had a really good year and leave it at that. Then everybody goes to Fuddrucker's and eats cheese fries.

November 29, 2000: UW-Madison scores a season-high 78 points in a 78-75 overtime win over Maryland at the Bradley Center, and a young Rubie Q and Warrior Brad witness the ball-fake, bounce-pass exhibition first hand. Sadly, Bennett is unable to deal with the offensive explosion of 78 points and retires due to exhaustion.

November 30, 2000: Bo Ryan, the most feared vampire in the Old World, awakens from his 500-year slumber. Bennett sees a kindred spirit in the undead menace and makes plans to summon the monster to Madison.

2000-2001: Whilst Ryan slowly makes his way across the Atlantic Ocean, Bennett cedes control of the team to his bumbling assistant, Brad "Igor" Soderberg. Baldness, bounce passes and disappointment mark Soderberg's brief and clumsy reign, as the Badgers struggle to a 9-7 Big Ten finish and drop a first round Madison Invitational tournament game to Georgia State. Soderberg is relieved of his duties and foisted upon an unsuspecting Saint Louis Billiken fan base.

2001: After months of travel, Bo Ryan arrives in Madison. He is immediately named Supreme Chancellor of College Basketball and Exalted High Arbiter of the Swing. His arrival marks the beginning of the Pax Rodentia, with the Badgers claiming Big Ten regular season titles year after year. In fact, for several years, a few members of the conference simply decline to travel to Madison to do battle with Bucky, instead opting to pay tribute to Ryan by forfeiting the game.

March 29, 2003: Like a zombie in a bad horror movie, Dick Bennett re-surfaces at Washington State. Lacking a municipal airport and secluded from civilization, Pullman is the perfect fit for Bennett as it insulates him from loud noises and allows him to finish his memoirs -- affectionately titled: "If The Fans Aren't Yawning, You Aren't Trying! Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Shot Clock" -- in a candlelit log cabin. For three blissful years, the Wazzu ease people to sleep in the 9 p.m. CST Thursday night timeslot on FSN, earning Bennett the nickname "Mr. Sandman."

February 19, 2007: UW-Madison is ranked the No. 1 college basketball team in the nation, which comes as a shock to the Badgers and their fans, who have assumed (logically) that they were ranked the No. 1 team in the nation for the last twelve years. Proving that the praise of witless writers means nothing to them, the Badgers immediately drop their next game, 64-55, to some team in Michigan with a pint-sized coach.

May 2007: Fifteen years after enrolling at Madison, Alando Tucker finishes his doctoral thesis, "I'm Perfect for the Swing, And YOU Are, Too" and FINALLY graduates.

2009: Bo Ryan cools on recruit Vander Blue. Heartbroken, the wayward Blue eventually settles on a small, urban community college in Pewaukee. Or Milwaukee. One of the two.

2001-2010: After reaching the Final Four of the inaugural Madison Invitational tournament, the magnanimous Badgers permit other, lesser foes to reach the final stages of the tournament. Given their unquestioned dominance of college basketball, the team opts to bow out of the tournament early year after year, and the players instead spend their time whittling, playing the cello, or putting their Agricultural Journalism degrees into practice.

Just for poops and giggles, the Badgers make a run to the Elite Eight in 2005, thumping three elite programs -- #11-seeded Northern Iowa, #14-seeded Bucknell, and #10-seeded North Carolina State -- before allowing #1-seeded North Carolina to make a rare trip to the Final Four.

100 years from now: Bo Ryan quits coaching, ascends to Heaven to take his well-deserved place at Dick Bennett's right hand.

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